Romantic comedy in The Roche Hotel

Misty Baker image

Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series. Her other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, Christmas Lites II, The Darwin Murders, Tasteful Murders and EveryDayFiction.

Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. She finished her first historical romance this spring and has one children’s book (Quentin’s Problem) soon to be published, with one more waiting for illustrations, and many more stewing in her head.

When she’s not writing fiction, Mysti works as a freelance editor and copywriter. She also reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Mysti’s Blog:  Subscribe to my blog, Unwritten 

Visit my webpage: www.mystiparker.com (in construction)

Mysti’s Facebook: LIKE my fan page on Facebook! 

Twitter:  Follow me on Twitter @MystiParker

http://www.amazon.com/Roche-Hotel-Season-One-ebook/dp/B00NYCMIZQ

 

Mysti, for the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

You’d find The Roche Hotel in the romantic comedy section, if there is such a thing. It’s also serial fiction, made up of connecting flash-fiction length stories rather like a sitcom. Is there a serial romantic comedy shelf in the bookstore? I wonder if they would mind if I built one…

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher?

I started out being published with a small press—Melange Books. I love Nancy and the crew and I’ve seen several small presses that are doing great. I’ll definitely not be avoiding them in the future. I have tried the agent/big press thing. Had the agent—didn’t get me a deal in close to a year and a half, so I’m here to tell you that agents don’t necessarily mean you’ll get a publishing contract. Therefore, I’m taking advantage of self-publishing with The Roche Hotel and other projects. I like being in control of when it goes out, my cover art, how it’s promoted, and getting all the royalties myself.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

Pantser! Though I’m trying real hard to be a better planner. I’ll never be a stickler because it’s fun when my characters surprise me, but a little structure doesn’t hurt! Shameless plug alert—I wrote a recent article about that very thing: http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/2014/09/story-planning-for-pantsers.html

Complete this sentence….. Something/someone who helped me improve my writing is……. learning to give and get feedback from fellow writers at Critique Circle and Writers Village University.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

The Roche Hotel Cover Misty Baker

 

Here’s the blurby goodness:

After her husband ditches her for a blonde actress wannabe, Jane Seymour needs a job that pays the rent. The struggling Roche Hotel needs a miracle. With the former owner’s wife butting her nose into the renovations and new owners who are in way over their heads, Jane may be the answer to their prayers. Sure, she can handle The Roche Hotel’s quirky staff. But, can this skittish divorcee keep it all together when handsome Henry the Donut Guy makes his first delivery? This collection of serial fiction stories is a Tudorific romantic comedy that will leave you laughing out loud and hungry for more.

Thank you Mysti. Jane Seymour?  As in the actress?  The Roche Hotel sounds very interesting. Kind of serial  romantic, comedy, mystery. A touch of everything. It should reach a large audience.  When I first starting writing ficton commercially, I had a terrific online critique group, including Leona Pence that you probably know through F2K. WVU, Writers Village University has been a wonderful source for new and experienced authors.   I highly recommend it to other authors.

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My Husband is a Woman Now

Leslie Fabian pic

This is one of the most unusual  interviews I have ever done since starting Author Interview Friday.   As you can tell from the title, My Husband’s a Woman Now, it is quite an unusual story. So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Leslie Hillburn Fabian, today’s Author. And because this is such an unusual topic, I’d like to change the order which I normally do my interviews. So hold on to your seats  readers, as I reverse the order. (just to keep you on your toes  LOL)

What shelf would we find your book if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

            With the ease of ordering on-line these days, I seldom go into book stores anymore, so I’ll have to create some shelf labels, to wit: LOVE STORIES; TRANSITION STORIES; RELATIONSHIP HELP; PERSONAL GROWTH & AWARENESS; MEMOIRS; TRANSGENDER…things along those lines.

Leslie, Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

From My Husband’s a Woman Now: A Shared Journey of Transition and Love by Leslie Hilburn Fabian, LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker)

            “When I met my husband, he was wearing a dress.” I had occasionally made this surprising declaration during the first twenty years of my marriage to David. I’d been selective, of course, trusting my instincts to determine when and to whom it was safe to reveal this.

            Making this bold pronouncement, I’d been “outing” my husband as a cross-dresser, exposing his life-long secret of sometimes wearing women’s clothes. The statement was invariably shocking and confusing to others, but I had found it the least complicated, most direct way, of opening a conversation about who he truly was—or rather, who we thought he was.

            Then, in 2009, after twenty-one years together, we both realized that David was more than “just a cross-dresser” and he began moving in a much more audacious direction. His sporadic feminine expression, the act of cross-dressing, had morphed into a plan to become a woman full-time. This revelation was alarming to the majority of people in David’s life. They’d known him only as a man and it was unlikely they’d ever thought to question his undeniable masculinity, a perception based on observable details.

            …All who know David saw a skilled orthopedic surgeon, beloved and respected by hospital and office staff, patients, family, friends, and particularly by me, his wife. But the physical form, the skills, integrity, and brilliance of this individual—all that one could witness of his life—masked the inner workings of David R. Fabian, M.D.

            This transition story begins in middle age, in our early sixties. It is about the deconstructing of our previous life and the creation of a new one. My husband, David Robert Fabian, M.D., began living as a woman in the fall of 2011. This woman, Deborah Rae Fabian, has existed internally for all of David’s remembered life.

Did you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time’s?

            I have no formal training in writing, other than occasional weekend workshops and a class I attended years ago. All of the reading I’d done throughout my life, prior to beginning my book, contributed to the structure I used. There was, in fact, little structure in the beginning. My daily writing was essentially a “free-form” recording of what was occurring, both internally and around me. As I promoted my husband’s transition, maintaining a desire to remain in our marriage, emotional fluctuations were rampant.

            In the second year of my three-year writing process, the composition emerged. Working with a book shepherd was enormously helpful, as she guided me in structuring my work into the finished product that manifested. The book gradually took a chronological shape in four parts: our past, the process during the two transition years, journal entries from the first year after transition, and, finally, what I learned from the entire process.

As someone who’d never before written a book, how did you know how to start, once you believed you had something to say?

     After I’d written for a year and had accumulated 150 pages of writing, I believed I had a book-in-the-works, yet had no idea how to proceed. Fate stepped in; a book on self-publishing practically fell into my lap at a Barnes & Noble! In the midst of looking there for clues to my next steps, I read about the concept of Book Shepherds, people whose work it is to advise, encourage, and support writers. This led to four phone interviews and the hiring of my incredible book shepherd, Judith M. Weigle, Book Shepherd, Judy@JudyWeigle.com.

     For two more years, to the completion and publishing of my book, Judy was a God-send who kept me afloat and assisted me in creating my first literary work. I doubt I’d have done it without her!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Both of my parents (now deceased) aspired to write; each wrote beautiful, inspiring letters. While providing incentive, however, neither ever got serious enough to create a book.

            In the nineties, I was in graduate school for social work at Boston College, and a professor noted on one of my papers, “You are a gifted writer!” I’ve always loved writing and was pretty sure I did it well, and that short statement stuck with me until I got serious about it in my sixties. Then, with a profound transition occurring in my life, I felt compelled to write the on-going story as it unfolded. Voila! A love story emerged, and my first book was published.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

            I actually used a print-on-demand publisher called Virtual Bookworm. I consider this a “step above” self-publishing, as companies such as VBW provide myriad services, much as a traditional publisher does, for which the writer contracts. Their services are available both individually and packaged, and they are selective about what they publish.

            There are many reasons why I avoided the traditional route. Foremost was the warning of a friend who’s published several books and  found that the results of using a traditional publisher for one of them have been highly disappointing. The publisher made changes to her book with which she was not in agreement. She makes a pittance on the thousands of books sold, while the publisher makes much more. Further, the publisher now owns the book and she must buy it back if she wants to change publishers. She also warned me that it would likely take a couple of years to see my book in print, since I was a first-time, unknown author.

            I chose Virtual Bookworm after researching print-on-demand publishers and liking their services, packages, and responses to my inquiries regarding their work. They have been wonderful to work with; I highly recommend them.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

            As I said, I felt compelled to write this book, under the circumstances occurring in my life. I found the writing to be therapeutic and instructive to my own process, as I have for thirty years of daily journaling. I also knew that what I had to say could be helpful to others—to those going through similar processes, to anyone going through a huge transition, and also to those who might be curious about our situation and how my spouse and I handled it. There was no stopping my “Voice,” once the writing began!

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

            I developed this technique in graduate school, with lengthy papers to write, and it’s continued to work for me whenever I have a project of any kind. First I decide on a total time I want to write for that day. Then I prepare my work space, read something inspiring, and set a timer for one hour. I work until the timer goes off, then take a break. If I’m highly engaged in my work when an hour is up, I might continue working for another half-hour or to the completion of that piece, and I’ll set the alarm again for thirty minutes (to keep track of my total time). Then I get up and do something fun, completely unrelated to my writing, for fifteen to thirty minutes—e.g., walk the dog, grab something to eat, read something unrelated. Then I begin writing again, resetting the timer until I reach my total time for the day. This system promotes meeting my daily goal, as well as providing rewards for satisfying work.

 MY Husband is a Woman

Thank you Leslie.  This is a strange and compelling story. It took a lot of courage to expose your personal life, knowing that some people would never understand and attack your views and decisions.  Yet, it is something you felt compelled to write.  Reader, to learn more, go to her website: www.lesliefab.com

Below is a intro into her story and links to buy her book.

Nothing is more certain in life than change, and this change is bigger than most. In 2009, Leslie Fabian’s husband, David-an orthopedic surgeon who’d been privately cross-dressing for most of his life-realized that brief forays into the world as Deborah would never be enough.
This came as no surprise to Leslie. For two decades, cross-dressing had been a part of their lives; but she had witnessed her spouse’s devastation each time he returned to his male persona. To purchase, go to any website below. These are for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my publisher, Virtual Bookworm.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Husbands-Woman-Now-Transition/dp/1621374319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394127297&sr=8-1&keywords=9781621374312

(http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-husbands-a-woman-now-leslie-hilburn-fabian/1118828078?ean=9781621374312)

http://www.virtualbookworm.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SRCH

9 Ways Dating Has Changed In The Thirty Years I Have Been Away

candy 2013

Candy Cooper McDowall

This is a Facebook post from my daughter that I wish to share with you (with her permission).  I am sure you will love it as much as I did. No author/writer lessons here today or  Author Interview. But I think you will find some wisdom and humor.

posted August 22, 2014 at 4:51pm

When I was a teenager, my father told me I was not allowed to date until I was 16. Yes, you read that right. 16. That’s not to say I didn’t hit the occasional basketball game with a “friend” or double-date for the movies (that we walked to). But for a legitimate date, one that involved alone time between me and A BOY, I had to wait until that magical age of teen maturity. Sweet 16.

I remember pretty distinctly sitting at the dinner table telling my dad that I had been asked out for my first date, and having to ask his permission to go. He tried to be funny. He failed. I will leave the out the details.

However, this was 1982 or thereabouts. There were rules. Some of them were imposed by my dad. Some were just, you know, how it was done. But there were guidelines we pretty much all knew ahead of time. It never occurred to me they might be variable. They just… were. Which, I suppose, was fairly naïve considering dating in the 8Os was not very much like dating in the 50s, which is equally not like dating in the 20s. Still, these were the times I knew, along with the rest of my contemporaries. We were trying to act all grownup in our awkward bodies with our rampant hormones and having no idea what we were doing, guessing at societal norms in order to know how to proceed. Whether we followed them or not is not the point. They were there.

Fast forward 30 years…or so…

Stepping back out into the world of dating as a single woman in her 40s, with almost grown children watching, has been daunting. I’ve changed. The world has changed. But the one thing I did not expect is that DATING HAS CHANGED. Caught me totally off guard with that one.

I was scared enough as it is, with my previously unscarred heart now battered and slightly bruised. But at least, I thought, this time I had experience. This time, I knew what was coming. This time, I am all grown up in my not-too-shabby-for-my-age body, possibly with some raging hormones (which are likely menopausal), having some idea of what I am doing, because this time I KNOW the societal norms that tell me how to proceed. Whether I follow them or not is not the point. THIS TIME at least I know the rules.

Hah. Ahaha. Ahahahahahahaha!  WRONG.

I give you…online dating.

If you had said the words “online dating”  in the 80s we would have wondered what laundry had to do with your love life.

And so at this time, I would like to enumerate for you lucky souls who are NOT negotiating this newly-laid digital landmine, or maybe those of you who are jumping into those waters again, what is it like to be a teenager of the 80s dating in this new millenium. For those of you already doing it, high five for bravery.

80s Rule #1 – If a boy asks you out, he probably likes you.

I mean, he had to get up the nerve, look you in the eye (or write you a note), get made fun of by his friends, and then wait nervously for you to say yes. You don’t do all that for somebody you aren’t really interested in. It’s too nerve-wracking.

2014 Version – If you see a picture of someone you find interesting, and he sees yours, you might start a conversation. You will probably be emailing or texting for awhile. This might lead him to ask if you possibly want to get coffee or something. Maybe. He might just flirt. Or be cautiously distant so that you aren’t sure if he is interested or just bored from sitting home alone. And then right about the time YOU are ready to ask HIM if he wants to get coffee or something, because, you know, you are a modern confident woman and he already said he likes coffee, he will suddenly disappear and delete his profile. Likely in the middle of the conversation you were having and probably right after he just asked you out for that coffee.

80s Rule #2 – Your date must pick you up at the door.

There was no way in hell my father was going to miss out on the chance to terrorize any potential suitor of mine, even while being polite. I think it was the smile that threw them off. The anticipation of meeting The Father was likely much worse than the experience of meeting The Father himself.

2014 Version – Your date must not know where you live for a very long time.

It’s very possible you don’t have a good idea of what your date really looks like, since those pics he uploaded were from when he still had hair. (Side note: Beware the naked bathroom selfie. That would have gotten you arrested in 1982.) And since you are a single woman now, probably alone in the house in the primping hours prior to any first date, for safety’s sake, a new guy can’t get within 100 yards of you without a room full of caffeinated strangers, who may or may not be looking up when you walk in, but could at least call 911 if they heard screaming.

80s Rule #3 – Your date pays for dinner.

His dad probably slipped him a 20 on the way out the door, and reminded him to tip the waiter.

2014 Version – You get there early enough to buy your own coffee so there is no awkward reaching for your wallet as he reaches for his, not knowing if he really wants to buy your coffee or just feels socially obligated. Or he buys his own coffee and leaves you standing there feeling like a dolt for assuming those were together.

80s Rule #4 – If it is a nice date, he might ask you out again before the night is over.

I mean, you like each other. It was fun. Why not?

2014 Version – If it is a nice date, he will likely wait until he gets home, and then text or email you a day or two (or 5) later to see if you would like to go out again.

I had a guy say to me in all honesty, “I never ask a woman out for a second date while we are still on the first date, because then it avoids the whole awkward refusal thing.” Because truthfully, the chance of being turned down for the second date is much higher when you don’t know each other to begin with. I can’t exactly fault the guy. So you might be waiting for awhile for that second request. Or it might not be coming at all. Hard to say.

80s Rule #5 – If it is a nice date, there might be a goodnight kiss.

There might not, if one or both of you is shy. But there was little chance of more happening on that first date than a bit of awkward groping in the driveway. Not to say that more wouldn’t happen later, but much first date action was unlikely.

2014 Version – You have to state in writing on a public forum whether or not you are willing to have sex on a first date.

I wish I was joking.

80s Rule #6 – Once you are a couple, it is ok to slide across the bench seat and sit next to him while he is driving.

2014 Version – First, you probably aren’t even in his car for awhile. See Rule #2. But if you have made it that far, the bench seat is long gone. The best you can do is try to hold hands over the console between the bucket seats and hope you don’t lose feeling in your wrist.

80s Rule #7 – If your friends like him, he’s probably ok.

2014 Version – If he’s ok, your friends might like him. But not necessarily.

80s Rule #8 – If things don’t work out, there is probably an emotional breakup in person, but if he’s a real heel, it might be over the phone.

But if he did that.. COWARD! Couldn’t even look you in the eye. (spit) And then all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

2014 Version – If things don’t work out, a text message is a convenient and efficient way to get out of a potential relationship without having to bear witness to the other person’s heart breaking right in front of you.

But then, all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

Some things don’t change that much at all.

80s Rule #9 – If it all goes well, you gaze happily into each other’s eyes, put your picture in the newspaper, and start planning that over-the-top wedding with the giant cake and people from your dad’s office you’ve never met.

2014 Version – If all goes well, you slowly introduce each other to your respective children, quietly move in together one dresser drawer at a time, and maybe sneak off in a private little ceremony to tie the knot at some point. But not necessarily. Let’s not move too fast here.

Wish me luck. At least now I know the rules.

Candy Cooper McDowall ©2014

 

Shannon Danford writes “Mystery Blues”

Shannon Danford

Welcome Shannon Danford to Author Interview Friday. I have met Shannon twice now in author events such as Marco Island’s AuthorFest. It is a pleasure to have her on my blog today.

Shannon, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me, reading whatever they happened to be reading.  Not surprisingly, I became intrigued with the magic of the written word.  Then, in the fourth grade, my teacher published some of her students’ stories and after seeing my story in ink, I knew writing was in my future.   That future turned into a circuitous journey that ultimately provided the stories that needed a voice.   I saw my first book in print at age 49.  It’s been a long road.

I know the feeling.  Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?

I have an undergraduate degree in marketing, so I have a basic understanding of the pipeline from creator to end user.   And since I’m not a fan of traditional marketing, I’m employing a strategy that makes more sense to me – place a high value on creativity throughout the product cycle; it keeps things fresh and authentic.  To that end, I think the wordsmith/creator has to reinvent herself to adapt to a new literary world where she has to escort the book from concept all the way to the end reader and employ her creativity in ways that defy traditional marketing.  At this point, if a major press became interested in my books, I don’t think I’d sell out the flow and process I’ve forged.  I like being a rebel.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you?

I think part of the human experience is coming to understand your authentic self which naturally includes the discovery of your own voice.  Whether you play an instrument, dance, cook, paint or write, that spark that animates us wants to be known.  For me it happened while working in a nursing facility.  Watching people die (often without any family around) and handling things like adult briefs that no one wants to touch, takes a toll on you.  To get through the day, I started imagining I was on the set of a sitcom.  If I didn’t figure out how to laugh about my situation, I would be too depressed to function.   That humorous perspective allowed me to survive and ultimately flourish.   Back then, finding my voice was liberating.  Today, writing in that voice keeps me grounded.

What was  your biggest challenge in learning to write or in the industry?

For me, the hardest part of writing is changing hats from writer to editor, to publicist, to publisher, to marketer.  But the literary world is in flux and I believe to survive it, one must adapt.  On a positive note, I have to think that with every book the obstacle course gets more familiar and easier.  I look forward to the day when I can take off my training wheels.

Do you have any advice for new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Believe that you can’t fail.  You are the only person who can speak in this voice; you have a story to tell.  The only way you can lose is to stop writing!  When you have a finished manuscript, get as many people to read it as possible and listen to their feedback with an open mind.  Then buy the best editing you can afford.

Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is …..

My favorite place to write is at my desk with a cup of coffee on my right and a lighted fragrant candle on my left.  Celtic music plays in the background and it is raining outside.  Ahhhh

What’s your next big writing challenge?

Everything I’ve written to date has been humorous and I plan to continue in that genre for at least two more books; however, my sister writes screenplays and encouraged me to give that a try.  So I’m working on a story that is told largely through pictures.  It is a challenge that I think will help sharpen my dialogue skills and allow me to explore another writing medium.  Beyond that, I’ll go where the muse leads.

Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?

This excerpt is from my third book in the blues series – Chinese Takeout Blues.

“What the hell is this?” Bucky knelt down and picked up the script. He began to read the questions out loud. When he looked up, Bucky’s mouth hung open, unhinged; his eyes were black pinpoints of malice.

Mo collected the rest of the pages and tucked them away. Then he stood and faced his colleague. “I would like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not, Bucky. You don’t deserve to serve the people of this county.”

Fern made no move to turn off the camera when she left the sound booth. Hiram followed behind and they entered the chamber where the two commissioners were still facing off.

“You did this!” Bucky shook the paper at Fern, spittle flying from his mouth.

Fern nodded. “Yes. I had to do something before you hurt anyone else.”

Bucky stormed toward her full of enmity and rage. “Are you trying to shake me down?” He drew up to within a foot of Fern and stood, nostrils flaring with each breath, oblivious to the fact that his entire comb-over hung free, dangling from his barren pate down to his shoulder like a threadbare beret. Buell closed the gap between them to inches. “This is setup!” He held the script under her chin and then released it. It floated harmlessly to the ground.

“No, sir, this is justice.” Fern said the first words that came to her. She stood toe-to-toe with the man, daring him to push her further. Buell flinched first, turning to the sound of the chamber doors opening. After several very tense seconds, all of which were being recorded, Fern knelt and picked up the paper, turned on her heel, and left him seething in his Kenneth Cole loafers.

Thank you Shannon.  Where can readers buy Chinese Takeout Blues or your other “Blues” mysteries?

To purchase my books at the best price, go to my website:  www.mamasluckymojo.com

There are also available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Shannon%20Danford&search-alias=books

 

“A murder and burial in the California Desert”

I am pleased to have author, Vanessa Covington with us today on Author Interview Friday.  Originally from Philadelphia, Vanessa moved to Los Angeles in the 1980’s where she was inspired to write “The End of the Rainbow.” Vanessa currently lives in Bonita Springs with her husband Kevin and children Regina and Kent.  Tell us about your novel Vanessa.

Vanessa Covington

 My novel is based on real events, inspired from my exposure to life in the big cities of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The story is about two young girls who travel from Philly to L.A. in search of a new beginning but finds themselves involved in a murder. It takes place in the 80’s.

I had the idea to write “The End of the Rainbow” almost twenty five years ago when I lived in Los Angeles.  Life took me into other directions at the time so I didn’t focus on writing. In 2007, I finally started my outline and kept at it until I published my novel in March, 2013. I love writing thrillers and writing in narrative form.

That is impressive that you stuck with it for six years. I’ve heard people say that is is easy to start a book, it is finishing it that takes the real work. What does “finding your voice” mean to you?

Finding my voice in this novel was easy because it was inspired by real events. To me, finding my voice would mean writing about what I know and expounding on it.

Marketing is difficult for all of us. What do you do to promote your book?

I’m trying to get as much exposure as possible by attending book signing events and marketing through my website and social media.  I had two booksigning events at Barnes & Noble Fort Myers and Naples stores. I recently joined the S.W. Florida’s Writer’s Group so that I can learn more about promoting and writing from other authors. My next goal is to write a screenplay.

New writers look to those that have been through the ropes, so to speak. If a new author approached you, what would you say to him/her?

My advice to new writers is to never give up. Writing can be extremely frustrating when you hit that block and can’t transition into the next paragraph or chapter. Remember, something will come to you eventually that will get you writing pages and pages afterwards.  Be patient.

The End of the Rainbow

 A tidbit from my novel:

TWO YOUNG WOMEN TRYING TO START A NEW LIFE IN LOS ANGELES BECOME EMBROILED IN A MURDER COVERUP.

. . . She waited, ready to knock him back down with the statue the moment he tried to stand. When he didn’t move, she thought he was unconscious and the worst that would happen was that he would sleep off the booze, wake up with a nasty headache, and apologize for what he had one to her.

Blood trickled down his face . . . she lifted his head to place a towel around it to keep the blood from reaching the Berber carpet. He wasn’t breathing.

Thank you Vanessa.  Readers, you can find Vanessa’s book on this link: http://www.amazon.com/End-Rainbow-Vanessa-Covington-ebook/dp/B00BTN26LS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394890708&sr=1-1   Visit her website at: thecallgirlchronicles.com

Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen

It is my great pleasure to introduce Alice Oldsford, author of  Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen.

Alice

Who am I and what do I write?

I wear a variety of hats – wife, mother, grandmother, Realtor, author, herbalist. On reflection I note that those pursuits relate to land use, not as a result of some grand plan, but simply from a conscious connection to the earth we call home.

It is my good fortune to pursue what I love, which is mostly found outdoors, whether walking, gardening or locating the perfect home with a client.

I raised 5 kids in the most self-sustaining environment I could conjure, of home-made and home-grown. My kids remember no one would trade lunches with them because their sandwiches consisted of home-made peanut butter and jelly on home-made whole wheat bread, an adolescent’s version of yucky.

My grandkids look forward to walks in the woods or even the neighborhood seeking traveling gnomes, puzzle rocks and edible wild plants.

And, as for my role as a wife, part of what attracted me to my husband was his love of vegetable gardening.

As a Realtor, I get to help people realize the American dream. Mark Twain said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

My NJ Trails books:

You Can Get There from Here: Hiking Hunterdon County Trails and the sequel  Hiking NJ Trails – Hunterdon County and Beyond: You Can Get There from Here Too, have been my most fun land use activities yet, sharing my love for the outdoors with folks who want to give it a try.

The NJ trails books are meant to inspire people to enjoy the trails and prepare them for what to expect. It is my contention that knowing what you are likely to encounter enhances the enjoyment. More than maps provide, this book comes from my own perspective and love of the trails.  I have walked each and every trail in all seasons.

When I started to write Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen, I thought “Whoops, how does this book fit in with my love of  nature and the outdoors.” Then I realized it absolutely reflects my passion for home-made and home-grown as well as embracing what Mother Nature has to offer.  In addition, it reflects my desire to get out of the kitchen and embrace the outdoors.

This is my collection of inspirations sprinkled with favorite recipes. My intention is to spark the reader’s imagination and offer practical tips gleaned from a chef and friends/foodies who have shared their recipes and insights. These thoughts confirm for the reader that nutritious and delicious food patterns can be established without dedicating countless hours in the kitchen and outside the fast food forum.  It is a jumping off place for adventures in the kitchen.

Writing Challenges and Finding your Voice

When I was writing my first trail book, which was published in 2009, I found staying on track a bit of a challenge. There are lots of distractions in life, which we all experience.  I remember moaning about “not having time” and one of my sons reminded me we have time to do the things that are priorities for us. I had offered this advice to my children, and now it came back to me. I got back to work and finished the book. If a writer will do something each day, progress is inevitable.

Recipes and Life was about 3 years in the making.  My original vision kept evolving, and I was having trouble finding my voice. Then I moved from NJ to Florida.  Oh my, that literally created some technical difficulties as to gardening in Florida and food mores.  In the end, I decided I needed to tell my readers who I was, where I had come from and how I got into writing this book.  That allowed my voice to come through.

Alice's book

My favorite anecdote/excerpt from Recipes, which actually reveals a lot about me:

Thanksgiving

In the late 60’s when I was a young married woman, we lived in a duplex with a nice backyard and the smallest kitchen I have ever seen – no more than two steps to any appliance or work space. We had a purebred German shepherd named Mingo. I thought it was a good idea to invite the family for Thanksgiving dinner. I think it’s called “Ignorance is bliss.” I was organized and excited to host my first big dinner party.

The day arrived, and the turkey was awaiting the stuffing and roasting. The turkey proved too much of a temptation for Mingo. While I was in a different part of the house, there was quite a commotion in the kitchen. When I arrived, I found Mingo had wrestled the turkey to the floor with the intention of devouring it. I was able to rescue the turkey and banish Mingo to the yard. Now what? With no experience and only my creativity to rely upon, I washed the turkey then took needle and gold thread and sewed up the torn skin. Why gold thread? I reasoned it would blend with the roasted turkey.

The family came and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. No one noticed the stitched up skin, and I did not tell the story until sometime later.

Why Self Publishing and Promotion

When I was writing my first trail book, I realized the market was very regional, so publishing options would be limited.  I contacted a couple of small publishers, which were not as prolific in 2009 as they are today.  They were not taking on new titles. I did not feel discouraged, and self-publishing seemed a natural solution. The trail books were never stigmatized as a result of being self-published, and they have done very well in their target market. It helped that I lived in an area where Indie bookstores are embraced.

With “Recipes and Life”, it was just natural to do it my way, so to say. The publishing industry has evolved  since my first book in 2009. Established authors are self-publishing and using small publishers, and that gives credibility to those of us who are newbies, who follow their lead.  Although there are fewer Indie bookstores in this area, Florida does seem to encourage local authors.

When I published my first trail book, a long-time journalist/family newspaper owner in NJ advised me that I would need to rely on myself to get the word out and market my book. His newspaper had done some local publishing, and he disclosed that sales and distribution had less to do with the quality of the book and more to do with the author’s efforts to promote it.  He told me they had boxes of excellent books in the office basement that the author just did not push.

I start with my network, arrange signings and presentations, and ask anyone who might be remotely interested in putting my book on their shelf.  Press releases are often helpful in garnering attention and invitations to present.  I have a website and blog for the trail books.  I am about to create a blog for “Recipes” which will allow followers to share recipes.  I always have books in my car. I ask other authors what they do.  Check out local authors shelves in your favorite book store.

My advice to new writers:  Keep on keeping on!

 “Energy and persistence conquer all things” Benjamin Franklin

My website with links to blogs: http://www.aliceoldford.com/

Thank you Alice. Your humor and zest for life is contagious. This has been fun. Come back to Writing Under Fire sometime soon.

 

Welcome back, author Dan Goldstein to Writing Under Fire

Please help me welcome back, Dan Goldstein, to my weekly Author Interview of the Week. He was a guest on one of my very first posts, as an a good friend and author, I am pleased to have him back. Dan is has written several Indie novels and some children’s stories. His latest book, Wild Bill Hickok, is the true adventure of the famous wild west icon’s last few weeks of his life as portrayed in a journal of his sidekick, Nathan Bernard and passed down to his son, grandson and then to Goldstein.

Joanne:  Do you have a background in writing?

Dan: Not really. Up north before coming to Florida I started writing children stories. When I arrived in Naples I joined an evening class and shortly after, my teacher took me aside and told me she liked the way I did my dialogue and that I should try a novel. I thought she was crazy. Me? Write a novel? But I started one and found that I picked the right topic and the words just flowed out of me. It was an adventure story and now it’s in print and also e-books.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Dan: Mostly. I have some great children stories but I prefer to write adventure stories.

Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing route instead of traditional publishing?

Dan: Now-a-day, I believe that if you’re not a big name writer or you know somebody who knows somebody, or you are extremely lucky, it is rare an agent will touch you. I have also discovered that most publishers won’t touch you without an agent. It feels like a catch-22 situation. I believe that the big publishers are losing out by not representing more local writers.

Joanne: Do I always write in the same POV?

Dan: I tried writing in first person and found it much too difficult. I switched to third person and that was much easier reading and writing.

Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis or the story itself?

Dan: I find the synopsis the hardest in writing. I tend to get inside the story too much and the synopsis gets too lengthy.

Joanne: Are you a pantser or a planner?

Dan: Not knowing exactly what a pantser is, I assume it is somebody that writes by the seat of his/her pants, while a planner has a good idea what the story is about and plans each step. Actually, I write quite different from most. I start with a title and start the story never knowing what the story is about until I get into it. I also usually put myself into the story and respond as I would to whatever event I’m writing about. I never write an outline or plan any events until they actually arise. I have written six novels this way, and what I have found as my only problem is my English knowledge and building sentences in the correct English. I write as I have learned to speak, mostly while in the streets of Boston. Since writing novels I have found myself correcting other writers in their spelling and use of words. Many times while reading some ‘big named’ writers like Stuart Woods I have said to myself, “this sounds like me writing”.

Amazon link to Hickok novel

Thank you Dan, for taking the time to be my guest on Writing Under Fire.

Goldstein is the author of Wild Bill Hickok – The True Story about his last six weeksBoston / Moscow Connection and Destination: Croatia

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Hemphill Towers makes a debut appearance

I am so excited to have Leona Pence on Author Interview Friday. Leona and I both started our novels about the same time and worked on them together with line-by line feedback through Writers Village University in 2011. Wow, Leo, has it really been that long ago? For both of us, this has been a long haul and I am tickled pink that her novel, Hemphill Towers is now out with MuseItUp Publishing.

Leona Pence

Leona Pence

Leona started reading romance novels as a teen. She graduated from Nancy Drew stories to Harlequin Romance, and then to her favorite author, Barbara Cartland and her vast Regency romance collection. Happy endings were a must. Leona began writing late in life after the death of her husband of forty-four years. They married on her 19th birthday after a three month courtship – and yes – love at first sight really did happen. She enjoys reading, writing, online pool, and especially being a Mentor in F2K, a free online writing course.

Leona:  Thank you for having me on your blog today, Joanne. It’s been awhile since we critiqued each other’s work in the WVU novel group. I know at least five of us from the group are now published. We must have done something right, I’d say.

Joanne:  It was a great experience. I know I never would have made it without all the help from that wonderful group.  Tell the readers when you first knew you wanted to be a writer and the inspiration to get you started.

Leona:  My novel started as a joke between me and two online friends. I was only planning to write a short spoof with no idea that I had any writing talent. I’d say I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I’d sent out ten of my fifteen installments to family and friends. My inspiration was the camaraderie from many online friends.

Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Leona:  Not until after I’d written my manuscript. Then I discovered F2K (fiction for 2000) and WVU (Writers Village University)  They provided critique groups and writers from all over the world to lend support. We had fun in the Novel Group, didn’t we, Joanne?

Joanne:  Yes we did, Leo. What a great bunch of girls, and from all over the world. How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

Leona:  It took three months to write a first, very rough, draft. It sat on the shelf for a long time, so approximately five years before publication became a reality.

Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?

Leona: Most things I write involves romance. It’s the easiest to write a happily-ever-after ending

Joanne:  Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Leona:  I’d say Contemporary Romance, but maybe Romantic Suspense.

Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Leona: I’m published through MuseItUp Publishing, a Canadian house. A mutual friend introduced me to the publisher, Lea Shizas. I sent her my manuscript and she offered me a contract.

Joanne:  Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Leona:  I’m more comfortable using third person POV. I haven’t switched yet.

Joanne:  Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s

Leona:  In Hemphill Towers, I alternated between my three heroines. Birdie Orrwell’s story took place in Italy, and it was a little difficult to keep the three stories intertwined without messing up the timeline.

Joanne:  What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Leona: The dreaded synopsis and query letter are part of the reason it took me so long to submit. Yeah, writing the manuscript was easier.

Joanne:   It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Leona:  My daughters raised a media blitz for me. I had television and newspaper coverage with more to come. I blog, and guest on as many as I can. I use Facebook and Twitter. I’m limited on marketing outside my computer. Being deaf and in a wheelchair puts a damper on live appearances. However, have you noticed via Facebook, that my overzealous supporters are trying to get me on the Ellen show. It would be funny if they weren’t so dead serious.

I am having a-Celebrate With Me- Facebook event November third. I have some cool prizes including my ebook.

Joanne:  That sounds like an exciting event. And we will watch for you on Ellen’s show. It could happen. We will all watch for the Facebook Event on November 3rd. Here that readers? — cool prizes including her e-book.

Do you consider yourself a pantser or a planner?

Leona:  I’m a pantser. I sit at my desk and write what pops into my head.

Joanne:   What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Leona: I’d tell them Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a good book. Patience is definitely a virtue. Never give up. Cut unnecessary words like ‘that, just, really, suddenly, seemingly, to name a few, and remember, a person cannot laugh, snort, or yawn words. Watch those he said/she said tags.

Joanne:  How do you feel, now that your novel has been published?

Leona:  I feel such a sense of relief that it’s finally happened. All the hard work, along with the agonizing wait, has faded, just like birthing pains do. Ooops, is that comparing apples and oranges?

Joanne:  I don’t think so at all. The waiting is really painful (and rejections along the way) What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Hemphill Towers

Hemphill Towers

LeonaHemphill Towers is about romance, art, stalking, wine forgery, the Russian Mafia, and friendship.

Joanne:  Where can readers get a copy of your book and other works of yours?

Hemphill Towers 2013 MuseItUp Publishing:    http://tinyurl.com/lrqon56

Amazon:    http://tinyurl.com/krom6yw

B & N :   http://tinyurl.com/k597f84

Blog:    http://leonaschatter.blogspot.com/

Anthology:   http://goo.gl/T97WNW

The Darwin Murders:   http://goo.gl/YX3Xre

Joanne:  Thanks Leona.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Hemphill Towers

A little later, Stella put down her fork unable to eat another bite. She was listening to JB tell Federico a story about his latest fishing trip. JB raised his arm in a mock casting of a line, and in doing so, hit the wine bottle with his arm causing it to strike Stella’s full glass. The contents of both poured all over the front of her clothes.

Stella gasped when the chilled liquid came in contact with her body, soaking through her white blouse and bra. JB jumped up, grabbed a cloth napkin and began dabbing at the rapidly spreading red stain. Then the inevitable happened. First one button then another popped from her blouse and landed in the middle of the table.

JB stood dumbfounded, staring at the lacy exposed bra. Stella snatched the napkin from his hand and covered herself. Her face was much redder than the spilled wine. Riley could no longer contain her laughter and was soon joined by Birdie. Stella looked at them and then at the stricken face of JB Edwards; she began to laugh herself. Tears ran down their cheeks. JB sat back down, relieved there would be no repercussions from his gaffe.

Author of the Maverick Junction series visits Writing Under Fire

Today I have the honor of having Lynnette Hallberg, writing as Lynnette Austin, with me on Author Interview Friday. Lynnette has six books already in print, two more scheduled for release and a ninth book in progress. All of this beginning in 2000, with the majority in the last three years. This is one busy woman. Lynnette, it is such a pleasure to have you. I know you must have tons of great advice to share with other writers and avid readers.

Lynnette Austin

Lynnette Austin

First, Joanne, I’d like to tell you how wonderful it is to stop by your blog. Thanks so much for having me. I hope everyone will get comfy, pour a cup of coffee or something cold, and enjoy!

Joanne:  Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Lynette:  In 2000, I sold my first book, Enchanted Evening, to Kensington. Before they could buy the second, though, the line closed. I spent the next nine years writing, writing, writing, and receiving rejection letters—even with an agent. But I kept at it—and have a pile of manuscripts in my basement to prove it.

In 2010, I heard about a fairly new small press—The Wild Rose Press—and published three books with them that year—Moonlight, Motorcycles, and Bad Boys; Night Shadows; and Chantilly Lace and a Pretty Face.

In 2011, I sold Just a Little White Lie to Carina Press, an arm of Harlequin.

Then in 2012, my new agent sold my Maverick Junction series to Grand Central Publishing in New York City. Grand Central is under the umbrella of Hachette Book Group. The first, Somebody Like You, came out last December. The second, Nearest Thing to Heaven, releases October 1st. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You will be out in February. I’m working on the fourth, tentatively titled The Heart Won’t Lie.

I guess the important point here is to never, ever give up on your dream.

Joanne:  What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Lynnette:  The first is simply to write. I know. Basic. But in order to be published, you have to keep that butt in the chair, keep that story moving, and get it finished. Then you need to go back and edit, edit, edit. When you send that baby into an agent or editor, it should be looking its Sunday best.

The second piece of advice would be to persevere. It’s so easy to get discouraged and give up. Don’t. If you really want published, hang with it, listen to advice, use what you can, and discard the rest. Always remember that the story, the voice is yours. You will not fail in your quest for publication until YOU quit trying. Perseverance truly is the keystone to getting and staying published.

I’ll share, too, a piece given to me by another writer, one I think is so important. Someone told me early on to keep in mind that the writing community is actually quite small. Editors and agents move around a lot. Don’t burn your bridges—ever. Always remember this is a profession and behave accordingly. Don’t let your emotions rule.

Okay. A couple more things. J Writing is a habit, kind of like exercise. Train yourself to grab spare minutes rather than waiting for those huge blocks of time. When I was still teaching, I’d get up at four-thirty or five in the morning so I could write for an hour or so before getting ready for school. When I came home, I’d write for half an hour before starting dinner. It’s often about making time and setting expectations.

Keep writing—every day—and keep the story moving forward. Don’t worry about getting every word, every scene perfect the first time through. So many new writers work and rework those first few chapters, polishing them until they shine. That won’t get the book completed. Chances are, by the time you do finish, you’ll have to go back and edit those first chapters again anyway because by then you’ll know your characters inside and out. You’ll know what they’d do and how they’d react so much better than you did when you started that manuscript. Don’t waste time striving for perfection on the first draft.

Keep in mind, too, that yes, your manuscript is your baby. Yes, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it. Yes, you’re deathly afraid an agent or editor might say something bad about that baby. If you don’t submit, though, you won’t sell. That’s one of the few guarantees in this business.

Joanne:  What is the biggest mistake you made early in your career?

Lynnette: I think the biggest mistake I made was in not following up when an editor sent a rejection letter asking to see my manuscript again after specific rewrite suggestions. I made the rookie mistake of assuming that was simply her way of letting me down easy, and that’s so not true. If an editor takes the time to give you suggestions and asks to see it again after you’ve made them, he or she is serious. Editors—and agents—have way too much work to do to spend time on a manuscript that doesn’t show promise for their line.

Joanne:  What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

Lynnette:  Nearest Thing To Heaven is the second in my Maverick Junction series and, at heart, it’s a story about being given a second chance at love.

Maverick Junction, Texas, is kind of the quintessential small town, full of quirky characters and neighbors who watch out for each other, who take care of each other. I love writing small towns. There’s a flavor to them that can only exist there. Maverick Junction is a blend of every small town I’ve ever been in. I swear, after spending three books, and now working on a fourth, in this Texas town, I know it as well as I do my small hometown in Pennsylvania. Maverick Junction—and its people—have become very real to me.

With the holiday season fast approaching. Sophie London finds herself back in Maverick Junction for her cousin’s wedding to Cash Hardeman and runs headlong into Ty Rawlins, the widowed father of rambunctious triplets. Sophie, owner of Stardust Productions, believes in fairies and magic. Long-horned cattle, wide-open spaces, and four-year-olds with fishing worms dangling from their poles are enough to make any city girl run all the way back to Illinois in her Jimmy Choos. Ty, busy with the day-to-day duties as single daddy and owner of the Burnt Fork Ranch, has no time for romance. He’s had love and lost it. Yet he finds himself thinking of Sophie night and day. Can Ty convince both himself and Sophie that Maverick Junction is where she belongs, right beside him and his boys?

Nearest Thing to Heaven

Nearest Thing To Heaven will be released October 1st. It’s currently available for preorder on both Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nearest-Heaven-Maverick-Junction-ebook/dp/B00A2DONIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377959365&sr=8-1&keywords=nearest+thing+to+heaven

and Barnes and Noble:   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nearest-thing-to-heaven-lynnette-austin/1113742241?ean=9781455528387

 Joanne:  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?

 

Nearest Thing To Heaven

Ty Rawlins banged around in his kitchen, feeling more than a little frayed along the edges. Things weren’t going well. He glanced at the clock, then did a double take. The thing was practically sideways on the wall. Twelve o’clock settled somewhere around the spot where two o’clock should be. One of the triplets must have whacked it with a sword during last night’s duel to the death.

Guess he’d have to hang it higher.

He should have let one of the hands finish up the horse feeding so he’d have enough time for the kid feeding. Somehow, time was something he never had enough of.

Okay, so he was a single parent. All across America, single moms managed to take care of the kids, the house, and hold down a job. If they could do it, he sure as hell ought to be able to.

And now he had to go to this damn dinner tonight. He dropped a spoon into the far-from-empty sink. It wasn’t that he wasn’t happy for Cash and Annie. He was. But it stirred up memories he didn’t want to visit. Memories of far happier times now gone. Forever.

A crash sounded from somewhere in the vicinity of the living room.

“Uh-oh. Daddy’s going to be mad.”

That would be Jonah, Ty thought. The conscience of the trio.

“It was your fault.”

Jesse, the finger-pointer.

Ty set the pan of over-cooked spaghetti on a hot pad and strode off to the front of the house to check out the latest damage. He took a deep breath and surveyed the mess. Nobody was hurt. No blood anywhere. And Josh was right. Nothing was broken. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor bump. A mere blip on the uh-oh meter.

Again, thanks so much for having me today! It’s been fun! Please come visit me at http://www.authorlynnetteaustin.com. Nearest Thing to Heaven, along with Somebody Like You, may be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My earlier books are published under Lynnette Hallberg.